About five years ago the time when I began my study in Thai and linguistics , the professor had ever told me that , both Zhuang language which is the native language of nationality Zhuang in southeast part of China and Thai language which is the official language of Thailand are belonged to Tai group of Chinese-Tibetan language family. There was a differentiation between these two languages because of national migration and the influence from nationalities they adjacent to about three thousand years ago. Thai was affected by Khmer, Sansakrit and Pali and Chinese via Buddhism, politics, and economics, while the Zhuang was on another progress of change. But there are still a plenty of evidences to prove that Thai and Zhuang are brothers including basic core vocabulary. Since several thousand years has past, the meanings of the words involved lexical meaning, functional meaning are both changed in a certain way. And will see the way of change of the word “home” and “village” in Thai and Zhuang.
In order to meet this problem , we have to the prove that the word “home” and “village” are the basic words before Thai and Zhuang divided through comparing the two words’ pronunciations in Thai , Lao , Zhuang , Tai , Maonan , Shui , Puyi which are also belonged to Tai group languages .
From the table we can see that, the word which means “home” should be [ra:nxx](the tone will be different , and consonants [j][z] are the varieties of [r] ) , and the word which means “village” should be [ba:nxx] (the tone will be different). To contrast with Thai, we can find something interesting, such as:
(1) The word which means “home” in Tai-group languages has another lexical meaning in Thai – a shop. [ra:nxx] which means “home” lost its original meaning and was filled with another meaning “shop , a house used to do business” , a semantic transfer had happened on this word. Ancient Chinese who lived in Guangdong, Fujian, and Hainan province entered Thailand and brought their unique business model into Thailand at the same time. They took their first floor of the house as a shop to sold food, cloth, or other kind of handicrafts, the second and third floor to live. The house was not only a place to live, but also a place to conduct business, it had the same function as a shop. Matter of course, [ra:nxx]’s meaning was increase from one to two , “home ” and “shop”. As time went by, more effect Chinese had in Thailand, more competition between two meanings of [ra:nxx]. At last, “shop” had won the game.
(2)The word which means “village” in Tai-group languages means“home” in Thai. Meaning of the word was narrower than before. We can explain this change by a meaning table of “home” and “village”.
A place to production and living , to have rest
A place of emotion attribution
A place where can live one or more than one families
Because of lack of words to name “home” since [ra:nxx] was used to name a “shop”, people had to find a new word to name “village”, from the table we can see that it was not random to chose [ba:nxx] (village) to name “home”, they are synonyme for at least two word concepts are the same.
“village” of Thai = many/group + “home” of Thai
To see the word form of “village” of Thai, logically, I think it a new-established word from two parts [mu:11](“many/group” in Thai)+[ba:n41](“home” in Thai). Since the word [ba:nxx] (village) was to used to name the village people had to find another word to name the village. This time Thai people chose the way establishing new word by combining two meanings and word forms together to name “village”.
This kind of meaning change just one tip of the iceberg, during development of language, there too many forms of meaning change. Besides, while the language is on the process of change, the cultures must play an important role.